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Seeking A Devil's Advocate....


AeonJ

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I've heard from critics in other places that Mormons are neo-Gnostics (and JW's are neo-Arians). To me any simularities between the two are superficial at best, and that the two theologies deaply clash at very key issues.

Can anyone rationalize how Mormons are neo-Gnostics?

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Mormons are cool and gnostics are cool. Therefore, Mormons are gnostics.

Seriously, though, the gnostics weren't one single group, but rather a label placed on those groups that believed in personal revelation. By that logic, Mormons can certainly be considered neo-gnostics, and I doubt you'll find a Mormon who will dispute it, given that definition.

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Mormons are cool and gnostics are cool. Therefore, Mormons are gnostics.

Seriously, though, the gnostics weren't one single group, but rather a label placed on those groups that believed in personal revelation. By that logic, Mormons can certainly be considered neo-gnostics, and I doubt you'll find a Mormon who will dispute it, given that definition.

I can second this. Right now I'm reading a book on the Gnostic scriptures and there were many variations of gnosticism. Some were polytheistic, some monotheistic, some believed in creation by many gods over different stages, while some believed in creation by one god.

You might wanna check out "The Everything Gnostic Gospels Book" by Meera Lester, a Roman Catholic. She does a good job of evaluating the different gnostic scriptures and what the different sects believed. If you want a good summary of how Hugh Nibley used the gnostic scriptures to show paralells with the LDS Endowment then you may want to check out "Hidden Treasures of Knowledge" by Morgan.

To me, having God order Jesus to create the world as in John 1 does have somewhat of a gnostic flare. However, the idea that matter is evil and that Jesus could not have resurrected in the flesh, which was what some gnostic sects believed, has influenced other groups but not Mormonism. For instance, it is heresy to the protestants when the Mormons say man can acheieve godhood in the next life. When you consider that the protestant culture largely believes in the total depravity of man and that man is "corrupt flesh" and he could not possibly be in the same species as God. I think Nibley hinted at this in his Pearl of Great Price video. From this it appears that the gnostics not only influenced Mormonism but other groups, especially mainstream protestantism and Christian Science.

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Didn't the ECF originally use 'gnostic' as an adjective to describe a person knowledgable in the mysteries (esoteric rites)?

I think "Gnosticism" was a pretty encompassing term. I think they used "Gnostic" to describe a person who claimed to be knowledgable of the gnosis, or the secret knowledge. This included groups ranging from the Sethians, the Valentinians, the Marcionites, the Thomasines, the Basilideans -- all of which differed greatly in their beliefs and teachings. Surely in this broad spectrum of belief there are numerous similarities to our modern-day Church.

But perhaps the most striking belief common to all of the Gnostic sects and the LDS Church is the gnosis -- the emphasis on knowledge and its importance to salvation, something absent from other Christian sects.

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I can second this. Right now I'm reading a book on the Gnostic scriptures and there were many variations of gnosticism. Some were polytheistic, some monotheistic, some believed in creation by many gods over different stages, while some believed in creation by one god.

You might wanna check out "The Everything Gnostic Gospels Book" by Meera Lester, a Roman Catholic. She does a good job of evaluating the different gnostic scriptures and what the different sects believed. If you want a good summary of how Hugh Nibley used the gnostic scriptures to show paralells with the LDS Endowment then you may want to check out "Hidden Treasures of Knowledge" by Morgan.

To me, having God order Jesus to create the world as in John 1 does have somewhat of a gnostic flare. However, the idea that matter is evil and that Jesus could not have resurrected in the flesh, which was what some gnostic sects believed, has influenced other groups but not Mormonism. For instance, it is heresy to the protestants when the Mormons say man can acheieve godhood in the next life. When you consider that the protestant culture largely believes in the total depravity of man and that man is "corrupt flesh" and he could not possibly be in the same species as God. I think Nibley hinted at this in his Pearl of Great Price video. From this it appears that the gnostics not only influenced Mormonism but other groups, especially mainstream protestantism and Christian Science.

You know the second thought i had after making this thread was that it was going to be a ruff but I'm glad to find diamond posts. :P

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You know the second thought i had after making this thread was that it was going to be a ruff but I'm glad to find diamond posts. :P

Thanks for the compliment AeonJ.

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Didn't the ECF originally use 'gnostic' as an adjective to describe a person knowledgable in the mysteries (esoteric rites)?
I don't think any discussion about our esoteric rites is allowed on this forum.

I don't recall discussing them other than to mention they exist. My point was leading to the gnostics comming from the pov of actually performing those rites originally as Christians (LDS-style) which later got courrupted.

On a side note, you can see in ECF practice esoteric rites that are very similar to ours which is what you'd expect. Of course few besides an endowed member would recognize them as such.

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I don't recall discussing them other than to mention they exist.

Actually, I think plenty of things in our church could be considered as being "gnosis" or a "gnostic" experience other than the deep mysteries taught in the temple. For instance, the "burning in the bosom" or testimony one receives from the Holy Ghost that the Book of Mormon is true when they pray about it. Also, you can feel the Spirit during Sacrament meeting while you pray during the period of time when its quiet just before you receive the sacrament. These are all examples of "gnosis" experiences where you receive an additional outpouring of knowledge or a mystical experience that comes from the Spirit.

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Actually I do believe that ole whatshername......um...... oh yeah (!) Elaine Pagels, amongst others have called for a ceasing of using the term Gnostic, since it means so many different and contradictory things to who is using it for their pet term for whatever theory they themselves are trying to uphold against all other comers to the field. Clear as mud? Yep....... :P

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A "Gnostic" Joseph Smith?

Harold Bloom's coupling of Joseph Smith to the Gnostic tradition has aroused animated disagreement among students of Mormonism and Gnosticism alike. Several questions crucial to modern Gnostic studies are raised by this emerging dialogue: What is the relationship of later "Gnostic" movements to classical Gnosticism? Were rudiments of the tradition conveyed to post-classical groups by historical links (oral transmissions, myths and texts); was it instead the independent product of a recurrent type of creative vision? Or are dual forces of historical transmission and primary Gnostic experience generally interdependent, even occultly linked? While Joseph Smith had historical connection with late remnants of Gnosticism conveyed by Renaissance Hermeticism and Kabbalah, his religious creation nonetheless clearly derived in large part from a personal experience. Was that primal creativity "Gnostic"? If so, how did it relate to the matrix of tradition?

The complexity of these questions defy simple declarations. Nonetheless, Smith did apparently espouse themes familiar to Gnosticism--prominent among them being his affirmation of the reality and necessity of continuing, individual revelation as the source of salvific knowledge. Joseph Smith and his religion eschewed theology in favor of the dynamic process of revelation. The result was best summarized in what Bloom remarked to be "one of the truly remarkable sermons ever preached in America", a discourse delivered by the Prophet on April 7, 1844. Known as the the King Follett Discourse, it was Joseph's last major address to his church, presented just ten weeks before his death at age 38.

"There are but very few beings in the world who understand rightly the character of God," he began. "If men do not comprehend the character of God, they do not comprehend their own character." Within humankind there is an immortal spark of intelligence, taught the Prophet, a seed of divine intellect or light which is "as immortal as, and coequal with, God Himself." God is not, however, to be understood as one and singular. Turning to Hebrew and an oddly Kabbalistic exegesis of the first three words of Genesis (an exegesis probably taken directly from the Zohar), Smith pronounced there are a multitude of Gods emanated from the First God, existing one above the other without end. He who humankind calls God was Himself once a man; and man, by advancing in intelligence, knowledge--consciousness--may be exalted with God, become as God.

Near the beginning of his ministry in 1833, Smith declared "the glory of God is intelligence", eternal and uncreated. Those who wish to find in him a Gnostic have pointed out that Smith used the word "intelligence" interchangeably with "knowledge" in his prophetic writings during this period. Indeed, they suggest, his words might be read poetically to proclaim God's glory is Gnosis--a Gnosis that saves woman and man by leading them together to a single uncreated and intrinsically divine self.

http://www.gnosis.org/ahp.htm#sidebar

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I've heard from critics in other places that Mormons are neo-Gnostics (and JW's are neo-Arians). To me any simularities between the two are superficial at best, and that the two theologies deaply clash at very key issues.

Can anyone rationalize how Mormons are neo-Gnostics?

Sure. Secret/Sacred cerimonies to gain special knowedge VS openly taught and practiced.

Second is gospel of eternal progression.

Third are some teachings about God and Jesus that are not fully in keeping with the Bible or OT.

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I've heard from critics in other places that Mormons are neo-Gnostics (and JW's are neo-Arians). To me any simularities between the two are superficial at best, and that the two theologies deaply clash at very key issues.

Can anyone rationalize how Mormons are neo-Gnostics?

i would term them as such however similarities are easy to see;

-secrets for a select few (of course the mystery religions here sometimes overlaped with the g's)

-writing their own things and crediting it to some biblical person.

-unable to really lay down a concise belief on one view

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